The Key of the Mysteries

The Fourth Part

The Great Practical Secrets
or the Realization of Science


The lofty sciences of the Qabalah and of Magic promise man an exceptional, real, effective, efficient power, and one should regard them as false and vain if they do not give it.

Judge the teachers by their works, said the supreme Master. This rule of judgment is infallible.

If you wish me to believe in what you know, show me what you do.

God, in order to exalt man to moral emancipation, hides Himself from him and abandons to him, after a fashion, the government of the world. He leaves Himself to be guessed by the grandeurs and harmonies of nature, so that man may progressively make himself perfect by ever exalting the idea that he makes for himself of its author.

Man knows God only by the names which he gives to that Being of beings, and does not distinguish Him but by the images of Him which he endeavours to trace. He is then in a manner the creator of Him Who has created him. He believes himself the mirror of God, and by indefinitely enlarging his own mirage, he thinks that he may be able to sketch in infinite space the shadow of Him Who is without body, without shadow, and without space.

To Create God, to create one's self, to make one's self independent, immortal and without suffering: there certainly is a programme more daring than the dream of Prometheus. Its expression is bold to the point of impiety, its thought ambitious to the point of madness. Well, this programme is only paradoxical in its form, which lends itself to a false and sacrilegious interpretation. In one sense it is perfectly reasonable, and the science of the adepts promises to realize it, and to accomplish it in perfection.

Man, in effect, creates for himself a God corresponding to his own intelligence and his own goodness; he cannot raise his ideal higher than his moral development permits him to do. The God whom he adores is always an enlargement of his own reflection. To conceive the absolute of goodness and justice is to be one's self exceeding just and good.

The moral qualities of the spirit are riches, and the greatest of all riches. One must acquire them by strife and toil. One may bring this objection, the inequality of aptitudes; some children are born with organisms nearer to perfection. But we ought to believe that such organisms result from a more advanced work of Nature, and the children who are endowed with them have acquired them, if not by their own efforts, at least by the consolidated works of the human beings to whom their existence is bound. It is a secret of Nature, and Nature does nothing by chance; the possession of more developed intellectual faculties, like that of money and land, constitutes an indefeasible right of transmission and inheritance.

Yes, man is called to complete the work of his creator, and every instant employed by him to improve himself or to destroy himself, is decisive for all eternity. It is by the conquest of an intelligence eternally clear and of a will eternally just, that he constitutes himself as living for eternal life, since nothing survives injustice and error but the penalty of their disorder. To understand good is to will it, and on the plane of justice to will is to do. For this reason the Gospel tells us that men will be judged according to their works.

Our works make us so much what we are, that our body itself, as we have said, receives the modification, and sometimes the complete change, of its form from our habits.

A form conquered, or submitted to, becomes a providence, or a fatality, for all one's existence. Those strange figures which the Egyptians gave to the human symbols of divinity represent the fatal forms. Typhon has a crocodile's head. He is condemned to eat ceaselessly in order to fill his hippopotamus belly. Thus he is devoted, by his greed and his ugliness, to eternal destruction.

Man can kill or vivify his faculties by negligence or by abuse. He can create for himself new faculties by the good use of those which he has received from Nature. People often say that the affections will not be commanded, that faith is not possible for all, that one does not re-make one's own character. All these assertions are true only for the idle or the perverse. One can make one's self faithful, pious, loving, devoted, when one wishes sincerely to be so. One can give to one's spirit the calm of justness, as to one's will the almighty power of justice. Once can reign in Heaven by virtue of faith, on earth by virtue of science. The man who knows how to command himself is king of all Nature.

We are going to state forthwith, in this last book, by what means the true initiates have made themselves the masters of life, how they have overcome sorrow and death; how they work upon themselves and others the transformation of Proteus; how they exercise the divining power of Apollonius; how they make the gold of Raymond Lully and of Flamel; how in order to renew their youth they possess the secrets of Postel the Re-arisen, and those alleged to have been in the keeping of Cagliostro. In short, we are going to speak the last word of magic.


Chapter III

The Grand Arcanum of Death

We often become sad in thinking that the most beautiful life must finish, and the approach of the terrible unknown that one calls death disgusts us with all the joys of existence.
Why be born, if one must live so little? Why bring up with so much care children who must die? Such is the question of human ignorance in its most frequent and its saddest doubts.
This, too, is what the human embryo may vaguely ask itself at the approach of that birth which is about to throw it into an unknown world by stripping it of its protective envelope. Let us study the mystery of birth, and we shall have the key of the great arcanum of death!
Thrown by the laws of Nature into the womb of a woman, the incarnated spirit very slowly wakes, and creates for itself with effort organs which will later be indispensable, but which as they grow increase its discomfort in its present situation. The happiest period of the life of the embryo is that when, like a chrysalis, it spreads around it the membrane which serves it for refuge, and which swims with it in a nourishing and preserving fluid. At that time it is free, and does not suffer. It partakes of the universal life, and receives the imprint of the memories of Nature which will later determine the configuration of its body and the form of its features. That happy age may be called the childhood of the embryo.
Adolescence follows; the human form becomes distinct, and its sex is determined; a movement takes place in the maternal egg which resembles the vague reveries of that age which follows upon childhood. The placenta, which is the exterior and the real body of the foetus, feels germinating in itself something unknown, which already tends to break it and escape. The child then enters more distinctly into the life of dreams. Its brain, acting as a mirror of that of its mother, reproduces with so much force her imaginations, that it communicates their form to its own limbs. Its mother is for it at that time what God is for us, a Providence unknown and invisible, to which it aspires to the point of identifying itself with everything that she admires. It holds to her, it lives by her, although it does not see her, and would not even know how to understand her. If it was able to philosophize, it would perhaps deny the personal existence and intelligence of that mother which is for it as yet only a fatal prison and an apparatus of preservation. Little by little, however, this servitude annoys it; it twists itself, it suffers, it feels that its life is about to end. Then comes an hour of anguish and convulsion; its bonds break; it feels that it is about to fall into the gulf of the unknown. It is accomplished; it falls, it is crushed with pain, a strange cold seizes it, it breathes a last sigh which turns into a first cry; it is dead to embryonic life, it is born to human life!
During embryonic life it seemed to it that the placenta was its body, and it was in fact its special embryonic body, a body useless for another life, a body which had to be thrown off as an unclean thing at the moment of birth.
The body of our human life is like a second envelope, useless for the third life, and for that reason we throw it aside at the moment of our second birth.
Human life compared to heavenly life is veritably an embryo. When our evil passions kill us, Nature miscarries, and we are born before our time for eternity, which exposes us to that terrible dissolution which St. John calls the second death.
According to the constant tradition of ecstatics, the abortions of human life remain swimming in the terrestrial atmosphere which they are unable to surmount, and which little by little absorbs them and drowns them. They have human form, but always lopped and imperfect; one lacks a hand, another an arm, this one is nothing but a torso, and that is a pale rolling head. They have been prevented from rising to heaven by a wound received during human life, a moral wound which has caused a physical deformity, and through this wound, little by little, all of their existence leaks away.
Soon their moral soul will be naked, and in order to hide its shame by making itself at all costs a new veil, it will be obliged to drag itself into the outer darkness, and pass slowly through the dead sea, the slumbering waters of ancient chaos. These wounded souls are the larvae of the second formation of the embryo; they nourish their airy bodies with a vapour of shed blood, and they fear the point of the sword. Frequently they attach themselves to vicious men and live upon their lives, as the embryo lives in its mother's womb. In these circumstances, they are able to take the most horrible forms to represent the frenzied desires of those who nourish them, and it is these which appear under the figures of demons to the wretched operators of the nameless works of black magic.
These larvae fear the light, above all the light of the mind. A flash of intelligence is sufficient to destroy them as by a thunderbolt, and hurl them into that Dead Sea which one must not confuse with the sea in Palestine so-called. All that we reveal in this place belongs to the tradition of seers, and can only stand before science in the name of that exceptional philosophy, which Paracelsus called the philosophy of sagacity, philosophia sagax.
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